Oh my gosh, so many people I know are feeling depressed during the stay at home order.

Our lives are so different now. The things we used to take for granted – restaurants, massages, hanging out with friends, taking road trips, even going to the doctor – are all missing from our lives right now, leaving what feels like nothing. We are feeling empty and lonely and bored, among other things.

Unfortunately, many of those emotions can lead to feeling depressed. For many of us, feeling depressed before the coronavirus was a daily reality but for those of you who haven’t struggled with it before it can be especially hard to manage.

Let me give you a few tips, from someone who has lived with depression for years, for how to best ride out feeling depressed during the stay at home order.

#1 – Focus on what you do have.

Are you spending much of your day thinking about all of the things that you usually have in your life? Work, friends, sex, dating, the gym, Starbucks? All of those things have been important, and taken for granted, parts of our lives and their absence can be devastating.

Would it be possible for you, instead, to focus on what you do have?

I was talking to a friend of mine whose husband died last year and I mentioned that my boyfriend and I aren’t as physical these days. She said ‘Don’t take each other for granted. I haven’t been touched in 3 weeks.’ That gave me pause and I went and hugged my boyfriend.

I learned a big lesson from her, to appreciate what I do have. Can you take stock of what you do have? Do you have a roof over your head, a job, friends to keep in touch with, free time to watch some TV that you haven’t been able to watch? Do you have a pet who will give you love, the ability to get outside into the woods, more family time then you have had for years?

All of those things are important to take stock of. Sooner or later (hopefully sooner) our lives will go back to (somewhat) normal and we might not ever have the life that we have now again.

So, take a moment and take stock of what you have. It might help you feeling depressed during the stay at home order in a big way.

#2 – Have hope.

One of the hallmarks of depression is hopelessness. And it’s hard to not feel hopeless these days. We are dealing with a normal that we have never had to deal with before, with no easy end in sight, and it’s hard to believe that we could ever be happy again.

I am here to tell you, however, that this will end. The life that we are living right now, socially isolated, wearing masks, staying 6 feet away from each other, not traveling and being generally afraid, won’t last forever.

Yes, it might take a while for our lives to go back to the way they were before but they will go back. And when they do, our lives will go on. We will date and go to Starbucks and fight with our families at Thanksgiving and soon forget that this was even part of our reality in early 2020.

So, have hope. This will not be your life forever. I promise.

#3 – Get some Vitamin D.

When people visit the doctor about feeling depressed one of the first things that is done is a test for Vitamin D levels. Low levels of Vitamin D are found in many people who are feeling depressed and, for many, a Vitamin D supplement can make all of the difference.

Another way to get Vitamin D is to get out into the sunshine. I think that, because our outside time has been limited, many of us have low Vitamin D levels and that is causing some (or all) of our depression. So, try to get outside and get some sunshine.

If you can’t get outside, there are natural light lamps for sale that do an excellent job imitating the beneficial aspects of the sun. They are inexpensive and you can put one on your breakfast table and get a Vitamin D dose right then and there.

So, if you are feeling depressed, get yourself some more Vitamin D, however you can, and see if it helps!

#4 – Distract yourself.

Unfortunately, when we are depressed, one of our worst enemies is our brain.

When we are feeling depressed, more often than not our brains get caught in this cycle of negative thoughts. We think about how horrible our life is, what losers we are, how our parents neglected us, how we have no friends. These kind of thoughts go around and around in our brain and sink us down deeper into depression.

One of the best tools against depression is to distract that brain of yours. Watching a movie or binging on TV, reading a book, talking to a friend, listening to music, having sex, all of these things will stop that brain of yours from doing the negative circle dance and give you a break. And, even if the break is just for a short time, it will be a break. Just like taking a break when you are climbing a mountain, that mind break will help you manage your depression before it sucks you dry.

#5 – Get some help.

One of the most important parts of managing depression is to know when you need to get some help.

If you were depressed before all of this started and you find yourself sinking deeper into it, it might be time to call your doctor. Doctors are doing video consultations so perhaps you should call yours and tell them what is going on.

If feeling depressed is new for you, try to do some of the items above and see if they help. If you find that you aren’t getting better, contacting your doctor would be a good idea. They might be able to give you additional support to get you through these times.

Depression can take its toll if it is left unmanaged. Don’t let your depression take over your life. Make sure that you get some help if you need some.

Feeling depressed during the stay at home order is something that is way more prevalent than anyone of us would like.

Fortunately, there are ways to manage it. Take stock of what you do have, know and believe that this crisis will end, get some Vitamin D and keep that mind of yours busy.

Most importantly, if you find that your depression is getting worse, that you find that you can’t get out of bed and that you are full of hopelessness and despair, call your doctor. Get some help. This is very, very important.

Feeling depressed during the stay at home order is not abnormal. Be soft on yourself. Manage it. We can all get through this. Together, and apart.